The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled last week that a Bend man who broke at least seven bones and punctured a lung while skiing at Mt. Bachelor can go forward with a lawsuit against the ski resort.
Philip Emerson broke his femur, pelvis, clavicle, thumb and several ribs after crashing on a crafted terrain park feature called “the bomb drop.” Emerson filed suit in April 2011 in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
In January 2013, visiting Crook County Circuit Judge Gary Lee Williams ruled that a reasonable juror couldn’t find that Mt. Bachelor “grossly negligent” for Emerson’s injuries, and thus granted summary judgment to the resort.
But the appeals court found that evidence existed upon which a reasonable juror could premise a finding of gross negligence. Three skiers had reported being hurt at the feature in the six weeks before Emerson was injured. The first skier suffered a shoulder injury, the second an injury to the knee and the third an injured leg that might have been fractured. Though the resort’s risk manager had said after Emerson’s crash that he didn’t think the accident history at “the bomb drop” was significant, the appeals court found that it was.
An alternative defense argued by the ski resort was that Emerson was a season pass holder who had signed a liability waiver which provided that he agreed not to sue the resort. But the appeals court noted that in December 2014, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that such blanket liability waivers were “unconscionable.” In doing so, the high court revived a $21.5 million lawsuit filed by a Bend teenager who became permanently paralyzed when he broke his spine on Feb. 16, 2006, after he launched off a jump at Mt. Bachelor terrain park. See Oregon Supreme Court Sides with Skier.